asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what alterations he proposes to make in the British proposals on the draft treaty for peace with Japan in view of the recent Pacific Defence Agreement proposals, announced by the United States of America, and because of Australia's announcement that she no longer wishes to make reservations concerning the American draft peace treaty.
The answer is "None, Sir." His Majesty's Government were aware of the discussions for a Pacific defence arrangement and took them into account in putting forward their proposals for a draft treaty of peace with Japan. As regards the second part of the Question, I am not aware that the Government of Australia has stated that it no longer wishes to make reservations concerning the American draft peace treaty with Japan.
Is it not true that the representative of Australia in Japan at present is reported publicly to have stated that there is now no need in any way to disagree with the United States arrangements and that the British suggestions for a peace treaty were—I believe these were his words—"not sufficiently realistic"? Are we to understand that Great Britain will be the only country left insisting on Peking being brought into the peace treaty?
I do not think I have any information, other than a Press report, of what the Australian representative is alleged to have said. All I said in my reply was that I am not aware that—even in the Press statement the hon. Gentleman was describing—the Australian Government no longer wishes to make any reservations concerning the draft peace treaty.
What is the position now about the draft treaty proposals? Shall we have an opportunity of knowing what we shall be committed to before we are committed to it?
Two working drafts of the peace treaty with Japan are now under discussion in Washington. The first was prepared by the U.S. Government and the second by His Majesty's Government. It is hoped that these discussions will lead to a considerable measure of agreement. Consultation is taking place between His Majesty's Government and Commonwealth Governments and preliminary comments on our draft have already been received from the Governments of Canada, Australia and New Zealand. These are now being studied. It has not yet been decided whether a peace conference will be held. I hope to be in a position to make a fuller statement on the subject in a week or two.
Would the hon. Gentleman bear in mind that these peace discussions are causing more than ordinary interest, and will the Government consider how they can best act so that the House may have an opportunity to express its views and, I trust, its agreement with whatever the Government are trying to do?
If by finality is meant the signing of a treaty, I could not give any estimate. I said I hoped that they would have gone far enough to enable the Government to make a statement in a week or two.